Remembering Yaakov Neeman z”l

“At this wonderful residence, souls are saved in Israel. And our sages said that saving one soul in Israel is like saving an entire world. Our sages also said that those who die as martyrs for a holy cause are kept close to the Throne of Glory. You succeeded, as your brother, Eran, is sitting next to the Throne of Glory and seeing everything that is being done here. And I hope that your mission, a holy mission, will impact us in the State of Israel, and that we stop being a nation of gypsies and become a nation of modest people, who fulfill G-d’s word.”

Yaakov Neeman, on the occasion of the Rishon LeTzion Municipality’s event on 9.6.2016, in honor of my Israel Prize

Yaakov Neeman was commander of the team that rescued my brother Eran’s body after it had lain bleeding in the field, next to the burning tank, for a week. Then, at the height of the Yom Kippur War. My brother’s tortured face was engraved deep in Yaakov’s soul. 27 years after the war, I met with Judge Hanan Efrati and Yaakov Neeman to hear the story of my brother Eran’s rescue. They both spoke about his face. All three of us wept.

Later, when Yaakov was the Minister of Justice, he gave me a gift, the book “It’s Sad to be Autistic,” written by Avrami, his relative with autism. Yaakov believed that children with disabilities, like our son Eran, and like Avrami, are the purest of people. I felt that, for Yaakov, it was as if the soul of my brother Eran, bleeding in the field, had blended into that of Eran, our son, bleeding in society. When we buried our son Eran, Yaakov stood by my side, like one of the family. About a year ago, he recommended me for the Israel Prize, and when I informed him that I’d been awarded the prize for my life’s work, he said “L’pum tza’ara agra” (“As is the suffering, such is the reward.” Pirkei Avot 5:23).

As soon as the award ceremony for the Israel Prize was over, Yaakov came onto the stage, hugged me warmly and said: “When you gave your speech, your brother Eran was hovering over you.”

Today, Yaakov is with my brother Eran. Next to the Throne of Glory. May his memory be a blessing, and his soul bound up in the bond of life.

Doron Almog, Major General (Res.)
Chairman, ALEH Negev-Nahalat Eran